This last year and a half I have spent most of my time writing down all the things I haven’t ever had the confidence to say out loud. I have written down parts of my journey that I needed to get out.. to let go of, to reflect on, and to understand. Our bodies are all different, as are our stories that are attached.. or go along with them. It is absolutely amazing and intriguing to me what each and every one of us goes through, physically, mentally and spiritually when it comes to our bodies.
For me, it was important to learn not only how to connect to my body but to understand my body; from its needs, its breaking points, and the thoughts/feelings attached to it. My mindset around my body has been a rollercoaster ride. Lots of ups and downs… I have had moments where I move forward and moments where I don’t move at all (mentally and physically). To say I have always had a positive view or mindset around or about my body would be a lie. I have put my body through hell. I have also learned how to take care of it and nourish it. I have found ways to let the negative thoughts/mindsets go.
Truthfully for me sharing this in a “blog” is a little selfish.. I felt that the last thing I needed to do to fully connect with myself…with my body was to take what I have written about it and share it. Another thing is I haven’t always been good about sharing what I write and or sharing personal things about myself with anyone. I am taking myself out of comfort zones with this one.
I can honestly say most of the time I feel most comfortable wearing workout clothes. Most of my outfits have always included some type of workout clothing.. shorts, t-shirts, yoga pants, etc. My idea of “real clothes” was wearing jeans with a hoodie. I honestly didn’t really worry about exercise or my diet growing up. It wasn’t till the tale end of high school when I started really looking at myself in the mirror and noticing “flaws” about my body that I strongly disliked.
I ended up making some “major” changes with what I was eating and my exercise routine.
I stopped eating a whole bunch of foods.. in saying that, there were days where I would eat one meal a day.. (not healthy but in my mind it was necessary). I eventually changed it again to a couple small meals a day. My exercise changed also.. I started running two miles everyday. My mindset was heavily focused on looking good (you know the external view). I was also stressing about being in shape for soccer; because of all the college showcases and summer tournaments I had coming up. I 100% thought that if I looked good, that I would automatically feel good internally.
From this experience I can say that mindset wasn’t all wrong.. once I started to like what I saw in the mirror it made me feel good (“the quick fix”). Those feelings were attached to something that could easily change with in an instance based off whatever I was doing. It was hard to continually keep this up. I maintained this for a year until I ended up tearing my ACL. Once I had surgery my diet only got worse.. I could only stomach yogurt and I had absolutely no desire to eat. This is the part of my journey that I realized anytime I was depressed, or super low.. I would lose my appetite. I was injured and recovering from a surgery, but mentally all I was thinking about was my body and what it looked like.
On top of this there is one thing that myself, and others deal with in my family. A few of us get “stomach episodes” or “stomach problems” as we have learned to call them over the years. I can only speak for myself on the affects of these issues. It felt like no matter what type of food I was putting into my body .. my body would reject it. I would get terrible stomaches and feel lousy. In my mind in order to avoid these issues, I felt like I couldn’t eat. I had gone to a handful of doctors and they couldn’t seem to find the problem with it either. After living with these issues (stopped about a year ago), I honestly thought it was just the way my body handled food and it would be like that forever. You begin to think it is just the natural makeup of your body. So when they didn’t happen after eating, I would end up getting bloated.. (I would feel so large). I felt uncomfortable and I would constantly be panicking about what was going on. When this would happen I would go into my moms medicine cabinet and take some of these pills she had. I would end up doing this as a solution every couple weeks … sometimes once or twice a week. The issue for me after reflecting on this.. is that I didn’t understand what taking those pills would do to my body.. I had no idea of the long term affects. I just wanted the instant gratification.. the “quick fix” .. the mindset stress release.
College was a time where I learned a whole new side to my body. As I got older I started having this issue with eating close to the time of working out .. or playing in soccer games. My solution was to not eat. For college soccer we would have two-a-days, and sometimes three-a-days. It was very important for me to nourish my body with the correct foods. I had to figure out a correct schedule that would help me eat before these work outs and games in a timely manner that would help me rather than hurt me. Most of my college soccer season I tried to make sure I maintained a certain weight or that I was gaining a little bit of weight not losing weight. We were provided pamphlets on proper nutrition and I had the basic understanding of it through health classes and my own readings. Besides stretching and days off, I learned what ice baths were. Recovery days were my absolute favorite days.
Once I was done with college soccer my outlet for life stresses and or “escapes” was through my work outs, and running. At this time, I learned how I allowed relationships affect my mindset and my body. If I was in a bad relationship or there were any issues in the relationship, my first instinct was to work out. On top of hard workouts, I would put myself down (a lot of negative self talk/feelings). I had one relationship where it got to the point where I felt unseen.. I was always trying to get their attention in little ways. Each relationship I had ever been in that affected my mind and my body all had different outcomes. One broke me down, I didn’t feel worthy or good enough, I lost my independence and became very insecure; another left me confused and doubting my appearance.. it left me feeling undesirable.. it in turn made me one of the worst versions of myself. Without reflecting back on this I would have never understood the power and weight that my mind and emotions had over my body.
Any “unhappiness”, low feelings or stress, that I had, I internalized.. and started bringing myself down, which lead to pushing myself into harder workouts. It helped that I worked at a gym at the time and was able to keep track of the foods I was eating and making sure I worked out after every shift. I spent so much of the past few years working out my body to the point of exhaustion and trying a handful of different eating “plans.” For me the take away from all of that..is that at the same time I started gaining more knowledge on these areas from all the different people I have met along the way.
With any major change or transition in my journey.. I have learned, 100% affect my eating habits, my mind, and my exercise choices. In this part of my journey I have learned a great deal more about my body and myself. It was never just about having the absolute best eating habits, and exercise plan.. its about the way I talk to myself, the way I see myself.. the way I feel inside.. its about my environment .. the things, people, places I surround myself with. I have spent this past year and a half refocusing on myself.. and paying attention to what I need. I no longer have those stomach issues, mainly because I went through the process of an “elimination diet” and it helped me realize what certain foods.. were doing to my body. I have changed my workouts to include some type of constant mobility/stretching and breathing activity/exercises. I started journaling regularly. It is important, I feel, to be willing to understand your body and yourself. My journey with my body isn’t over yet, we still have a long way to go together and I am excited to see what else there is to learn.